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What I learned from the Open Textbook Summit
Tony Bates, online learning, distance edcuation resources, April 24, 2014

(The retired?) Tony Bates attended the Open Textbook summit and came away with five lessons, including this most important one: "Adoption by faculty and instructors remains a major challenge. Diane Salter from Kwantlen Polytechnic University stated that there needs to be an institutional strategy for open textbooks and open educational resources, to raise awareness and get buy-in from faculty." I've had commentators (eg. Jonathon Rees (who has otherwise been very nice to me)) wonder aloud in the past why I sometimes appear so hostile to professors. Well, this sort of thing gets my goat - the overwhelming evidence that the professors don't care, not about student costs, not about institutional costs, not about anything, apparently, except their role as the leaders of academia.

Partial Transcript: Richard Levin (new Coursera CEO) on Charlie Rose
Phil Hill, e-Literate, April 24, 2014

Very lightweight interview with Richard Levin by Charlie Rose, with transcript provided by Phil Hill. Maybe Levin is just being cagey, but it's not clear to me he actually knows what the product, the differentiators and the issues are. Like this: "EdX is open source software, which some of the computer science types like that – it means they can play with it, they can add to the features on their own. But we’re developing interfaces that will allow faculty to add features as well." Does he mean modules, apps, APIs (like Coursera just offered)? Does he even know?

European Multiple MOOC Aggregator
Various authors, Open Education Europa, April 24, 2014

Worth a look: "EMMA will provide a system for the delivery of free, open, online courses in multiple languages from different European universities to help preserve Europe’s rich cultural, educational and linguistic heritage and to promote real cross-cultural and multi-lingual learning."

Key Data Residency Requirements Global Organizations Need to Understand
Gerry Grealish, Cloud Computing Journal, April 24, 2014

"Perhaps it is a result of the often discussed 'Snowden Effect,'" writes Gerry Grealish, "but no one can deny that countries and regions are putting some strict guidelines in place to ensure privacy of sensitive data that is moving outside of their borders." This article looks at three such guidelines. Canada has additional guidelines. Businesses and educational services working internationally must take note. You can't just shove all your data into AWS and be compliant.

With 24 million students, Codecademy revamps its offerings
Erin Griffith, - Money, April 24, 2014

People forget about CodeAcademy when they talk about MOOCs, but it was earlier than most and, with 24 million users, larger than most. It has distanced itself (quite rightly) from the xMOOCs offered at Stanford and elsewhere. "The problem with MOOCs, according to Codecademy founder Zach Sims, is that they simply try to replicate the offline learning experience. The web presents the opportunity to learn in an entirely new way, he says." Quite so. This year it will begin monetizing, not by selling certificates to students, but by matching students with jobs (circumventing the whole certification process entirely). When you stop thinking that you're a university, a world of opportunity opens up to you.

Software with Shoulders
Doug Belshaw, April 24, 2014

If you're wondering, Facebook knows pretty much everything about you. Which takes us back once again to the discussion of public spaces and private places. I remember writing about this in 2000, but it wasn't ereally much of an issue back then. But today, with surveillance, clampdowns on public demonstration, and all the rest of it, it is becoming much more so. Doug Belshaw writes: "Public spaces should be public and commonly-owned. Perhaps it’s time for governments to stop fawning over billionaires with technical skills and start providing services for all of us. Maybe instead of dismantling the state to allow for private profit, we can use technology to create a more egalitarian and just society." (p.s. don't bother with David Eggers; novelizations are not evidence, and shouldn't be cited as a way "to dig a little deeper"). 

Another Post about Hashtags. No, Seriously.
Tressie McMillan Cottom., tressiemc, April 24, 2014

Insightful post about the role and use of hashtags. It's relevant because of the widespread use of hashtags in learning. Hashtags were (and are) produced not by individuals or corporations, but by communities. Though commonly associated with Twitter, they existed before Twitter monetized them, and would continue to exist even after the company discontinues their use (as some carefully placed 'rumours' have suggested). But in the spirit of 'there is utterly nothing that commerce does not foul' the discussion over hashtags has turned to their exploitation (by news and other content agencies) and they ownership (by the people who really created them but who are missing out on the exploitation). It's actually a pretty common phenomenon; hashtags are just the latest victim. #Jazz #Rap #MOOC

Gates-funded student data group to shut down
Carolyn Thompson, Houston Chronicle, April 24, 2014

A Gates-funded startup is shutting down over privacy and security concerns. "The nonprofit's goal was to give educators a data-based tool to personalize instruction. InBloom, based in Atlanta, offered to store and synthesize student data, such as grades, disciplinary actions and disability records in cloud-based servers."

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
RSS Feed:

Key Articles

Scholarly Articles

Cites:294 Educational Blogging (Local copy)
264 Learning objects: Resources for distance education worldwide (Local copy)
134 E-learning 2.0 (Local copy)
126 Models for sustainable open educational resources (Local copy)
88 The future of online learning (Local copy
75 Learning networks and connective knowledge (Local copy)
70 Design and reusability of learning objects in an academic context: A new economy of education (Local copy)
59 Resource profiles (Local copy)
40 Learning networks in practice (Local copy)
33 Semantic networks and social networks (Local copy)
35 An introduction to connective knowledge (Local copy)
27 Design, standards and reusability (Local copy)
23 EduSource: Canada's learning object repository network (Local copy)
22 An introduction to RSS for educational designers (Local copy)

(Cites from Google Scholar for an H-Index = 14)

Recent Popular Articles

The Purpose of Learning, February 2, 2011.
The Role of the Educator, December 6, 2010.
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A World To Change, October 19, 2010.
Connectivism and Transculturality, May 16, 2010.
An Operating System for the Mind, September 19, 2009.
The Cloud and Collaboration, June 15, 2009.
Critical Thinking in the Classroom, June 5, 2009.
The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On, November 16, 2008.
Things You Really Need to learn:

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About Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes is a senior researcher for Canada's National Research Council and a leading proponent of the use of online media and services in education. As the author of the widely-read OLDaily online newsletter, Downes has earned international recognition for his leading-edge work in the field of online learning. He developed some of Canada's first online courses at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. He also built a learning management system from scratch and authored the now-classic "The Future of Online Learning".

At the University of Alberta he built a learning and research portal for the municipal sector in that province, Munimall, and another for the Engineering and Geology sector, PEGGAsus. He also pioneered the development of learning objects and was one of the first adopters and developers of RSS content syndication in education. Downes introduced the concept of e-learning 2.0 and with George Siemens developed and defined the concept of Connectivism, using the social network approach to deliver open online courses to three thousand participants over two years.

Downes has been offering courses in learning, logic, philosophy both online and off since 1987, has 135 articles published in books, magazines and academic journals, and has presented his unique perspective on learning and technology more than 250 times to audiences in 17 countries on five continents. He is a habitual photographer, plays darts for money, and can be found at home with his wife Andrea and four cats in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.


Stephen Downes travaille pour le Conseil national de recherches du Canada, où il a servi en tant que chercheur principal, basé à Moncton, au Nouveau-Brunswick, depuis 2001. Affilié au Groupe des technologies de l'apprentissage et de la collaboration, Institut de technologie de l’information, Downes est spécialisé dans les domaines de l'apprentissage en ligne, les nouveaux médias, la pédagogie et la philosophie.

Downes est peut-être mieux connu pour son bulletin quotidien, OLDaily, qui est distribué par Internet, courriel et RSS à des milliers d'abonnés à travers le monde. Il a publié de nombreux articles à la fois en ligne et sur papier incluant The Future of Online Learning (1998), Learning Objects (2000), Resource Profiles (2003), et E-Learning 2.0 (2005). Il est un conférencier populaire, apparaissant à des centaines de manifestations à travers le monde au cours des quinze dernières années.

Vision Statement

I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence. This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward.

Canadians who gave their lives in service in Afghanistan

Hundreds of my IAAF Track & Field Photos from Moncton 2010

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